What is a Gluten Allergy?

In wheat, barley, rye, and low level oats, there is a rubbery like protein called gluten. This substance is what helps the dough bind, which you would see with baked breads and other baked foods. Although these grains contain gluten, which can cause a gluten allergy in sensitive people, they also contain a number of other proteins that can also cause allergy symptoms.

The four primary proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley includes albumin, globulin, gliadin, and glutenin, better known as gluten. While the symptoms and severity of the symptoms of gluten allergy vary from one person to another, generally a person would experience hives, swelling, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, or asthma. If the person is highly sensitive to gluten allergy, the symptoms could be life-threatening.

The good news about gluten allergy is that if the person has a reaction after eating wheat or wheat product, making an early diagnosis is easy. The challenge is that so many of the foods we eat are made with wheat, making it difficult to tell where the real problem lies. Most often, a trained doctor or allergist would conduct a skin prick test or take blood to confirm that gluten allergy is the problem.

If the reaction to gluten is severe, the solution might be to eliminate wheat and wheat by-products from the diet. However, if the gluten allergy is minor, then reducing the amount of wheat consumed and/or allergy medication or shots might do the trick. If the person with gluten allergy is a young child, chances are he or she will outgrow the allergy.

Gluten Intolerance, also known as Coeliac Disease, is a hereditary disorder that affects the immune system. In this case, when gluten is consumed, the mucosa, which is the lining of the small intestine, is damaged. When this happens, important vitamins and nutrients are not absorbed properly. When a person has this type of gluten allergy, the symptoms would be different in children than they would be in adults.

For children, the gluten allergy would be seen as abdominal distension, impaired growth, abnormal stools, irritability, poor muscle tone, malabsorption, poor appetite, and wasting of muscle. If an adult has this type of gluten allergy, then diarrhea, significant weight loss, abdominal cramping and bloating, constipation, and offensive stools are common.

In both cases of gluten allergy, a doctor would need to perform blood tests to make a confirmed diagnosis. Once done, the only treatment is to have gluten completely eliminated from the diet. Because of this, it is essential that nutrient and vitamin deficiencies be addressed with things such as niacin, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, chromium, magnesium, selenium, folacin, molybdenum, and phosphorus. With proper care and diet, a person with gluten allergy can enjoy a hearty choice of foods without the irritating symptoms.